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Diversity Institute takes on MyStartr to accelerate employer-led hiring and related supports for diverse job seekers

October 19, 2023
In an office setting, two young diverse people shake hands to solidify an employment opportunity.

MyStartr (external link, opens in new window) , the employer-led program and digital platform connecting diverse young people with jobs, joins the Diversity Institute from MaRS Discovery District.  

Over five years ago, MyStartr was jointly developed by MaRS Discovery District and Starbucks Canada in collaboration with employers such as Bell Canada, Walmart, HMSHost, Tridel Corporation, The Source, Coast Capital Savings, TELUS and Teleperformance, as part of a public-private initiative funded by the Government of Canada to help youth find early work. Under the leadership of its Executive Director Angela Simo Brown, MyStartr worked with agencies across Canada to connect more than 20,000 young people with jobs, extensive evidence-based skills development, training and employment programs. 

“MyStartr is a valuable addition to the ecosystem of employers, job seekers, community partners, training programs and wraparound supports,” said Wendy Cukier, Founder and Academic Director of the Diversity Institute and research lead of the Future Skills Centre. “While there are lots of training opportunities out there, many job readiness programs lack engagement with employers and do not actually lead to jobs. Having employers at the centre is one key success factor.  

“We will build on our longstanding partnership with Magnet and with networks of employers such as the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, as well as our other programs and those of our partners. While MyStartr was designed to support youth facing barriers, and this remains the focus, we see opportunities to leverage the approach for programs for Black youth, newcomers (including refugees), women living in poverty, persons with disabilities, Indigenous Peoples and others.”

The impact of MyStartr is anchored in the inclusive approach to hiring by its employer coalition, which is committed to removing barriers and providing support to diverse job seekers.

“Our goal in co-founding MyStartr was to significantly increase the hiring of those facing inequities in the labour market,” said Ross Anderson, Head of Social Impact, Sustainability and Public Policy at Starbucks Canada. “Working with community organizations, we want to create a coordinated effort by employers committed to this collective goal of addressing inequities in hiring.” We know the Diversity Institute’s expertise and leadership in inclusive hiring will accelerate and scale our efforts.” 

The MyStartr Employer Executive Committee members, Starbucks’ Anderson; Christopher Delledonne, Director, Human Resources, Bell Canada; Andrew Cunningham, CCP Director, HR Services (Talent Acquisition, Compensation & Benefits), The Home Depot Canada; and Camille Bonner, Talent Acquisition Manager, Field, Walmart Canada, along with community support organizations will continue to collaborate and provide guidance to the Diversity Institute. The Diversity Institute, with Starbucks Canada and other employment program partners, will also continue to support in-person job fairs to connect employers with job seekers.

“After registering for the MyStartr program, I felt a renewed sense of confidence,” said a Toronto-based youth. “My coach, who called me to explain the hiring process and motivate me, was really nice and made me feel more positive about the whole experience. I would absolutely recommend the MyStartr program to any young person looking for work. With the current job market being so difficult to navigate, it's easy to feel discouraged and overwhelmed. MyStartr provides excellent support and preparation that is sure to help anyone feel more confident and are ready for the job search process.”

The Diversity Institute’s extensive research, design, delivery and evaluations has shed light on pathways to employment for youth, women, Indigenous Peoples, racialized people, including those who identify as Black, newcomers (including refugees), persons with disabilities, those who identify as 2SLGBTQ+ and others. The Diversity Institute has long insisted that the so-called skills gap requires attention to employer processes, especially around equity, diversity and inclusion, rather than just “fixing” job seekers. At the same time, many job seekers need additional training and wraparound supports to navigate employment systems.

“MyStartr also helps break the ‘no experience, no job’ and ‘no job, no experience’ catch-22 that people with limited social capital constantly face,” said Diversity Institute Executive Director Mohamed Elmi. “We work with employers across the spectrum of employment and know that gaining work experience is critical. We are excited as well about the research potential as we are always focused on ‘what works.’ We know that often the wraparound supports, mentoring and coaching offered by MyStartr are as important or even more important than the content of traditional training. We hope MyStartr will continue to help us level the playing field.”